F. Lee Bailey vs. IRS

Lawyers love saying that by representing yourself you have a fool for a client. Actually, they happen to be right. So, why didn’t Mr. Bailey hire a seasoned tax attorney? It beats me. But, unlike Mr. Bailey, I am not a celebrity. So, who am I to question his decision?

F. LEE BAILEY v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE can be found here at the US Tax Court website. Tax Court Memo. 2012-96 consists of 143 pages. Most of the case is pretty boring, but I had some fun reading it. Mr. Bailey, though, didn’t think it was fun. Well, at least in respect to some aspects of his case, such as piloting his yacht. But, the judge disagreed and determined that Bailey did have fun. Hence, it cost him some extra tax dollars.

Mr. Bailey confronted one of the Revenue Agents who examined his case. He was unsuccessful in discrediting the guy, though. It appears that the agent did not use the “N word”. In case you don’t know, this is how Bailey disgraced prosecution witness Mark Fuhrman in the OJ Simpson murder trial. For the reasons not disclosed in the court opinion, Mr. Bailey chose not to use “the-glove-doesn’t fit” defense (from the same murder trial).

The petitioner also invoked the Fifth. In English, it has to do with being deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. Well, I am not really an expert in this area. But, things like that rarely, if ever, fly in the federal tax court.

I also wonder, did Bailey even try to settle the case with the IRS? He could’ve done it at different levels. In most cases, the IRS examiners, Appeals Officers and attorneys prefer to resolve their cases peacefully. In return, the taxpayers may get away with lower assessments, as well as reduced penalties and interest.

Some tax practitioners may argue that Mr. Bailey won the case, at least partially. Well, I am not prepared to jump to the same conclusion, although he prevailed on some issues. It is very possible the IRS would’ve conceded the same issues if Bailey was more agreeable prior to trial.

In respect to all other issues involved, feel free to make your own conclusions.

Pointer 1. Virtually any lawyer can be admitted to practice before the US Tax Court. Yet, not all lawyers so admitted have what it takes to do a good job.

Pointer 2. Think twice before hiring F. Lee Bailey as your tax guy.

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2 Responses to F. Lee Bailey vs. IRS

  1. Peter Reilly says:


    It turns out that this was not Bailey’s first attempt at tax litigation. My reading of the case is that he did OK acting as his own lawyer but creamed where he tried to act as his own accountant.

    • Yes Peter, it could’ve been worse. It’s interesting to know Mr. Bailey has more tax litigation experience than I imagined. Yet, I would still refrain from hiring him as my tax attorney. I guess I would rather have a fool for a client.

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